Weightlifting, when said to the average gym goers brings up images of most likely curls, bench press and other upper body exercises. However, this is incorrect! Weightlifting refers to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting also called Olympic-style weightlifting, or weightlifting, is a sport in the modern Olympic programme in which participants attempt a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates.

Weightlifting is a sport rich in history that spans over three centuries, the 19th, 20th and 21st century. In 1896 weightlifting appeared in the first Olympic Games, however in the next Olympic Games in 1900 it was left out. In 1920 it was declared officially part of the Olympic Games. That same year the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) was formed. In the very beginning there were no weight divisions and the lifts were one handed and two handed lifts. The one handed lifts were with dumbbells and there were nine different lifts that competitors could compete in. In 1928 the one armed lifts were cut from the program and the lifts were the snatch, clean and jerk, and the press. However, the press was short lived and was dropped in 1976 due to controversies about how it should be judged. Then in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games women were finally granted a role in the competition.

The two competition lifts in order are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Each weightlifter receives three attempts in each and the combined total of the highest two successful lifts determines the overall result within a bodyweight category. Bodyweight categories are different for women and men. A lifter who fails to complete at least one successful Snatch and one successful Clean and Jerk also fails to ‘total’ and therefore receives an ‘incomplete’ entry for the competition.

In comparison with other strength sports which test limit strength (with or without lifting aids), Olympic Weightlifting tests aspects of human ballistic limits (explosive strength) and are therefore executed faster – and with more mobility and a greater range of motion during their execution – than other lifts. The Snatch and Clean and Jerk are both dynamic and explosive while appearing graceful, especially when viewed from a recording at a slowed speed. Additionally, the sport demands both intense mental focus and competitive toughness in order to succeed.